The Duck Decision

 /   /  By Emma Birches
Stone Soup Magazine
September/October 2001

By Chris Heinrich, Illustrated by Joe Lobosco

“Hurry up, Chris,” my dad whispered in my ear. “He’s gonna get away. You need to shoot him now.” I was looking down my brand new Remington 20-gauge shotgun at a mallard. It was a miserable Youth Waterfowl Hunting Day for me. I knew shooting those ducks would make my father proud, but I just couldn’t. My father was an avid duck hunter and fisherman when his job allowed it. Fishing bored me, so Dad hardly ever asked if I’d like to go with him. I had gone hunting with Dad before but never brought a gun, because I didn’t own one, and his were too big for me. The shotgun had been a present for my twelfth birthday in August. I’d been practicing almost every evening at the local shooting range, where I learned to ignore my gun’s kick and to ventilate soda cans.

The Duck Decision shooting a duck

I knew shooting those ducks would make my father proud, but I just couldn’t

I knew I could hit that duck, but I didn’t want to. I had never enjoyed killing things, and I loathed jerks who killed animals for no reason at all. I liked nature. I didn’t want to hurt it.

I looked down the barrel at one of the ducks. This duck had struggled to find enough food to survive, and had to evade predators each day of its life, and now my dad asked me to kill it so we could have one nice meal. I hated myself for even pointing the gun near the mallard, but I hated to hurt my father’s feelings too.

“I . . . I can’t tell which is the duck and which is the decoy,” I pathetically explained to my dad.

“Just try, Chris. I know you can do it,” Dad whispered confidently back to me.

Thanks, Dad, I cried to myself. Just make it harder for me. Tears leaked from my eyes as my brain raced to make a decision.

“You really don’t want to shoot them, do you?” Dad quietly intruded on my thoughts. I was too choked up to make any noise. Luckily, a nod was enough.

The Duck Decision Chris Heinrich

Chris Heinrich, 13
Baudette, Minnesota

The Duck Decision Joe Lobosco

Joe Lobosco, 12
Kinnelon, New Jersey

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